By: William Holmes
The “season debut” of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights occurred tonight in Miami, Florida, at the Magic City Casino. All three fights were action packed and gave the viewers of FNF the type of action that fight fans crave. ESPN wasted little time in airing the first fight of the night.
The first bout of the night was between Joshua Bowles (6-0)and Hairson Socarras (5-0-1) in the featherweight division. Socarras had the better technical background, and it showed from the opening bell. Socarass clearly won the first two rounds and picked up the intensity as each round went on. He landed two sold overhand rights in the second round that had Bowles staggered.
The end came in round three, when Socarras landed a vicious two-punch combination that put Bowles on his back. The referee waved off the fight as Bowles was slow to get to his feet. Hairson Socarras wins by TKO at 2:11 of the third round.
The second bout of the night was between Jonathan Gonzalez (15-0-1) and Derek Ennis (23-3-1) in the junior middleweight division. Derek Ennis weighed in seven pounds over the contracted limit, but forfeited part of his purse so that the fight could go on.
Gonzalez is a Puerto Rican boxer with a considerable amount of hype behind his name, but his last bout ended in a disappointing draw. Tonight he faced a tough Philadelphia veteran in Derek Ennis, and Ennis started the fight off strong with efficient counters. Gonzalez, however, was the more active fighter and out-boxed Ennis through most of the fight. Gonzalez’s best round was the third, when he began to let loose with his hands and combinations.
Ennis had a solid seventh round, but he was not active enough to win the fight. The final scores were 95-95, 98-92, and 97-83 for Gonzalez.
The main event was between Afghani-Canadian Arash Usmanee (20-0) and Cuban Rances Barthelemy (17-0) in the junior lightweight division. This was a great matchup between two undefeated prospects looking for a major title shot.
The fight featured a lot of back and forth action between the taller Barthelemy and the always pressing Usmanee. Barthelemy may have won the early rounds with his stiff jab and volume punching, but Usmanee turned up the heat in the third, going to the body with some thudding blows and at times chasing Barthelemy around the ring.
Every round featured fierce exchanges of combinations, but Usmanee got the better of Barthelemy throughout and simply wanted the victory more. Usmanee was headbutted by Barthelemy on more than one occasion, and suffered a large gash on his nose, but by round eight, he was nevertheless controlling the action.
Usmanee’s best round of the night was the last, when he battered an exhausted, staggering Barthelemy all over the ring with a never ending barrage of punches.
However, the judges must have been watching a different fight, or may have gotten the two fighters confused. Or as the incensed FNF announcers Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas said, perhaps the large Cuban population in Miami meant some severe home cooking in the decision.
The judges, who a livid, shouting Atlas denounced on the air as corrupt, somehow scored the fight 115-113, 116-112, and 116-112 for Rances Barthelemy.
Arash Usmanee and his team left the ring area in a state of disbelief.